It was 1950, and we had just moved from Greenfield to ten acres on the Milwaukee River in Ozaukee County. The decision to move was taken because my father’s colleagues were dropping over with coronaries (what heart attacks were called back then), due to the hectic lifestyle that being an MD in the post-war years meant.
We were living close to the new St. Luke’s hospital in those days. During the evening meal, our phone sat on the table because there would be several calls during the dinner hour. More than a few of them were emergencies, which meant my father had to leave in mid-meal to save eyes that had been injured in industrial accidents.
Living more than 30 miles away meant my father was rarely called–only as a last resort, because of the long distance charges for calls through a hospital operator, and the hour’s drive to the hospital (not ideal for the patient’s care). The move enabled my father to live into his nineties, and opened my eyes to the new world around me, including the glories of nature and the hard work farming entailed.
Most influential was attending the one-room school house on our road. I went from a class of 90 2nd graders in the city to a class of three 3rd graders, and only 13 students in all. I loved listening to the other classes and really enjoyed when our teacher would turn on the radio, for I knew we would join many others in other one-room schoolhouses across the state to sing or to draw.
Even though we may have been geographically isolated, we had a sense of belonging to a state-wide community of other rural children. As an result of listening to “Let’s Draw,” our efforts were entered in the County Fair in August. Much to my surprise, my drawings were on exhibit–and they had prize ribbons attached to them. What a boost for a nine year old’s self esteem! While I’m not sure that I still have some of those prize-winners, I do still have a copy of the song book from “Let’s Sing.”
Image credit: “Milwaukee River” from the UW Madison Archives Images